The Daily Illini

Illinois women’s basketball finish regular season winless on the road

Illinois%27+Alex+Wittinger+shoots+a+jumper+over+Indiana%27s+Amanda+Cahill+during+the+game+against+Indiana+at+the+State+Farm+Center+on+Feb.+10.+The+Illini+lost+70-68.
Illinois' Alex Wittinger shoots a jumper over Indiana's Amanda Cahill during the game against Indiana at the State Farm Center on Feb. 10. The Illini lost 70-68.

Illinois' Alex Wittinger shoots a jumper over Indiana's Amanda Cahill during the game against Indiana at the State Farm Center on Feb. 10. The Illini lost 70-68.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Alex Wittinger shoots a jumper over Indiana's Amanda Cahill during the game against Indiana at the State Farm Center on Feb. 10. The Illini lost 70-68.

By Jacob Diaz, Staff writer

With its loss to the Wisconsin Badgers on Wednesday night in Madison, the Illinois women’s basketball team will finish the regular season without winning a road game.

Head coach Matt Bollant’s teams have gone a combined 1-23 on the road the last two seasons, 13 of those losses coming this season.

Illinois has had many issues away from the State Farm Center, including struggling to start games, failing to close out games and shooting poorly.

Wednesday was no different as the Illini offense stumbled out of the gate, scoring 18 points in the first half. Not only did the Illini shoot under 40 percent from the field in the first half, they also shot under 40 percent from the free throw line in the first half. No Illini finished the half with more than five points, and the team ended the half by not scoring in the final four-and-a-half minutes.

The Illini defense performed better in the first half, holding the Badgers to under 40 percent from the field and forcing 10 turnovers. The Illini applied full court pressure to the Badgers, something Bollant has rarely used, and the team took advantage of the Badgers’ poor ball-handling. However, Illinois could not take advantage of the good plays made on the defensive end, scoring only nine points off of Wisconsin’s 16 turnovers.

The Illini picked themselves up offensively in the second half, more than doubling their first half scoring numbers. Forward Alex Wittinger and guard Brandi Beasley found some rhythm in the third quarter. Wittinger finished one rebound shy of a double-double with a game-high 19 points and five blocks. Freshmen guards Petra Holesinska and Courtney Joens had strong second frames as well, finishing with 10 and nine points, respectively.

“(Joens) got to the foul line for us and just made plays.” Bollant said. “Courtney hit some threes and played with a lot of confidence when we were struggling offensively. She’s a kid who believes she can make shots, and she did that in the second half, and she did that and got us back in the lead.”

Fouls hurt the Illini down the stretch. Bollant’s team sent Wisconsin to the free throw line 28 times. While Wisconsin made 19 of those free throws, it was enough to keep the Illini behind in the fourth quarter.

“Some foul calls late I thought was the difference,” Bollant said. “We got back and didn’t get the ball stopped a couple of times. They got some tight calls and got to the foul line. Them shooting 18 free throws, especially a couple of them late, that really hurt.”

With time winding down in the final quarter, the Illini made one final push and brought the game within two points with just over half a minute to play. But after taking two timeouts, Wisconsin inbounded the ball to forward Courtney Fredrickson, who swung it to Kendra Van Leeuwen with less than five seconds on the shot clock. Van Leeuwen measured and sank the jump shot and the Illini as the buzzer sounded.

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@Jacob_Diaz31

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